|Grizzlies focus on slowing down Sixers' Simmons, Embiid|
The Memphis Grizzlies and their fans will get their first look at star rookie Ben Simmons when the Philadelphia 76ers visit Monday night.
The Grizzlies enjoyed a reunion with former standout Zach Randolph on Friday, thumping the Sacramento Kings 106-88 on a night when Randolph scored just four points.
Nobody has held Simmons to four or fewer points this season. The NBA's leading scorer among rookies has poured in 20 or more points on 12 occasions, including back-to-back nights against Phoenix and San Antonio bridging New Year's Day.
Last season's Rookie of the Year, Joel Embiid, has been the star of the 76ers' current three-game winning streak, averaging 29.7 points and 12.0 rebounds.
Like much of the city of Philadelphia, the 76ers focused their attention on the hometown Eagles on Sunday, canceling a scheduled practice in order to take an earlier flight to Memphis.
That allowed them to land and get comfortable well before the Eagles routed the Vikings 38-7 and earned a trip to Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.
"We're going to enjoy this with the city of Philadelphia," coach Brett Brown announced. "Stuff like this doesn't come around very often. So on behalf of our team, we say, like the rest of the city: Go Eagles."
The 76ers got the day off after three straight wins, two against teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference playoff race -- Boston and Toronto.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, had a bit of a party of their own Friday night in Randolph's first visit since being allowed to leave as a free agent this past off-season.
Ben McLemore, a former Kings player, joined the fun with a season-best 21 points against his old mates.
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, the party ended Saturday night in New Orleans, where the club was scheduled to take a one-day trip in between their attractive home outings.
The Grizzlies nonetheless gave the Pelicans a run before coming up short 111-104.
"I can't say enough positive things about what our guys did tonight. They competed against all odds, all circumstances," Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said afterward. "We just decided it wasn't going to be an easy night for the other side when it very well could have been after getting down in the first half. Again, nothing but a lot of respect and a lot of credit to our guys for their makeup and fortitude."
After sweeping its three-game homestand that ended Friday against Sacramento, Memphis begins a four-gamer Monday night.
The Grizzlies will be facing the 76ers for the first time this season. The franchises have battled on even terms in their all-time series (21-21), which is quite a feat for the Grizzlies considering they went just 1-10 against the 76ers before moving south from Vancouver.
In fact, Memphis has won nine straight from Philadelphia, dating to December 2012. The 76ers have averaged just 89.4 points in their last five matchups with the Grizzlies.
Thanks to Simmons and Embiid, things have changed offensively for the 76ers this season. They've topped 100 points in 33 of their 42 games, including nine of their last 10.